Dollhouse Episode 5-7 Review
Thursday, April 02, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
To the 2-3 people out there who actually enjoyed reading my little reviews of Dollhouse, my apologies for not posting in a few weeks. I got a little distracted (I blame BufBloPoFo 09), and let it fall by the wayside.

Nonetheless, starting with Episode 8 up to the finale, I'll be doing my regular Monday posts on the latest episode. In the meantime, here's some quick thoughts on the three most recent episodes:

Episode 5 - True Believer

Echo gets programmed to believe that 1) she's blind and 2) God has called her to a particular cult compound in middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, the ATF (with an assist from Boyd) works to figure out if the cult poses a threat or are keeping members against their will. Long story short: the cult leader tries to burn everyone alive, and Echo ends up saving the day. Dominic secretly flies down to the location and attempts to murder Echo, but fails, because he is the worst at everything. In the B plot, Victor has a hard on (literally) for Sierra.

Things I liked:
  • Eliza Dushku looked gorgeous in her true believer get up. She's a pretty girl, and it was a relief to have a week where she wasn't gussied up in ridiculous high heels and short skirts.
  • Eliza also really sold me with her acting this week. The luminous look her features got when she was in full believer mode was wonderful.
  • Dr. Claire was funny in her reaction to Topher's juvenile panic about Victor's erections. It was very "high school health teacher deals with junior high student" in nature. Also, the term "Sneeze-ure" made me laugh out loud, I must admit.
Things I didn't like:
  • Echo's persona was so convincingly blissed out that I just didn't buy her rapid conversion to ass kicker at the end of the episode. While I believe the character may have realized that it was stupid for everyone to die in the fire, the way they wrote her in Acts 1 and 2 make me believe she'd never utter the line "He has a message and that message is 'Move your ass!'". I was expecting something more religious, a la "I realize I was sent here to warn you about this false prophet" or whatever.
  • I realize that Dominic may have been trying to cover his tracks, but if he really wanted to kill Echo, he should have just shot her in the head and blamed the cult leader. In all the confusion, I'm not sure who would have suspected anything else.
Episode 6 - Man on the Street

This episode is also known as "The One Where It Finally Gets Good". Thankfully they weren't kidding. This episode was very Paul Ballard-centric, as we see Paul harass an internet mogul (played by Patton Oswald), take his shirt off (yey!), sleep with Mellie, meet Echo in the flesh, and then lose everything at the end. Also, Victor still loves Sierra, but Sierra has her own problems, since her handler has been secretly raping her on the side. Yeah... dark stuff there. Oh, and we meet the latest Doll, November - and it's Mellie!

Things I liked:
  • I thought the show did a brilliant job faking me out on Mellie. At first, I was leaning towards suspecting she was either a doll or a soon-to-be victim. Then Paul slept with her and I was pretty sure she was a doll. Then they totally and completely fooled me by apparently sending the rogue handler off to murder Mellie. So I was blown away when the answering machine picked up and we heard Adelle's voice giving the activation command. Up until this episode, Mellie came across soft and weak, but holy shit was it scary when her head snapped around and her crazy blue eyes stared intensely forward.
  • I liked that the show acknowledged how ridiculous Paul sounded threatening Joel the internet mogul, especially since he was the one committing assault, as well as trespassing.
  • Victor broke my heart with his puppy dog crush on Sierra, and the way he said, "She makes me feel better." Speaking of heart-breaking, Dichen Lachmen totally brought it this episode and really made me feel Sierra's distress.
  • I really enjoyed the fight scene between Paul and Echo, especially once they moved into the alley.
  • This episode was chock full of meaty answers for those of us who have been patiently waiting for the show's central mythos to be more filled out. There were also several, "Whoa! OMG!" moments, particularly in the last 15 minutes.
Things I didn't like:
  • I thought it was an unnecessary detail to have Joel sleeping with the doll. I think the show would have injected a lot more pathos and moral dilemma into the discussion had it been a more chaste, "I just wanted to see the look on her face" situation. But no, in the end Joel had to be just another pig. There's rich dramatic potential in the idea of dolls as theraputic, without the icky sex stuff, but the show didn't go there, which was disappointing and took a lot of the impact away from the ending when you see Joel get his wish fulfilled.
  • Why doesn't the Dollhouse have cameras in what seemed to be a fairly large room behind that frosted glass? I mean, it was big enough that Boyd was able to hide in there without the rogue handler detecting his presence.
Episode 7 - Echoes

Synopsis: We're introduced to one of the power players behind The Dollhouse, in the form of the "Rossum Corporation." Rossum joins Veridian Dynamics, Massive Dynamics and the Sheinhart Wig Company as the new villain du jour of the millennium - the big, evil corporation that doesn't value the lives of the little guys. Anyway, a psychotropic drug gets released on campus, and the Dolls are sent in, since it's believed that their specially altered brains will be immune to the drug's effect. The outbreak happens to occur at the school Caroline (nee Echo) attended, so we're also treated to a series of flashbacks that show us how Echo landed herself in a situation that made her a candidate for the Dollhouse. It turns out the drug is either airborne, or transmitted by touch, and soon enough every single regular is tripping balls, and it's fucking hilarious. In the B plot, Mellie breaks up with Paul because he won't abandon his quest for the Dollhouse, and then she returns to the Dollhouse, where she comes within one uttered key word of flying into a murderous rage on Adelle and Topher. Topher takes his pants off and it is not nearly as great as Paul taking his shirt off last episodde.

Things I liked:
  • There were lots of fun comedic moments in this episode. Reed Diamond (Dominic) was particularly great. I enjoyed watching him grouse when he released that the Dolls "outranked" him in their current personas, and it was hilarious when he was pouting about how heavy his gun felt as the drug made him trip out.
  • For a minute I thought Topher and Adelle were going to replicate the Joyce Summers/Rupert Giles hook up from the infamous "Band Candy" episode of Buffy. Olivia Williams was great jumping up and down on the trampoline like a kid.
  • Boyd plays the piano! I *heart* Boyd at this point, people.
  • The scene at the end where Adelle was recruiting Sam (the "bad guy") was really chilling and effective. It was a nice parallel to the Caroline recruitment seen in the pilot.
  • Victor's flashback was intriguing - did something happen to him in the war that would make him voluntarily want to forget some past trauma?
Things I didn't like:
  • Caroline was a flaky animal rights activist? Really? I mean, I support animal rights, but I'm not sure I'm keen on my heroine being some ridiculous co-ed championing some idealistic cause. They didn't do a good job building up her case against Rossum either. It seemed very abstract, and it made Caroline come across like some PETA nut.
  • Continuing that train of thought, I hated how they walked into the lab, saw some animals sitting in cages, and looked at one computer screen, and then promptly started blathering about how "big" this was going to be when it got out. Um.... what exactly do you think you know based on that VERY limited look at the research? It just doesn't sell me on the idea of Rossum being this evil Big Bad. It felt more like, "They're up to stuff. I can't say exactly what that is, but it's... it's stuff, dammit, and it's bad, and they're just meanies! Look, they have pictures of fetuses, and they have puppies in cages! Boooo....."
  • I get that Echo was working as a sex object when she was triggered to go to the college, but it still felt extremely gratuitously having her run around in those stiletto heels, lacy white stockings, and tiny mini skirt that totally revealed her ass cheeks.
Things we learned these past 3 episodes:
  • Dolls can be programmed with an active personality and a sleeper personality. They can be triggered by key words said in their presence.
  • Dolls are not as sexually chaste as we first thought.
  • There are 20 different Dollhouses around the world! According to articles I've read, we won't see these other houses this season, though they'll be mentioned again, but if there's a second season, we might get to do some international travel to see how things are run at the other Dollhouses.
  • There's a mole deep inside the Dollhouse, and he/she is using Echo to communicate to Paul. The mole is smart enough to know how to re-program the Dolls (and fairly quickly too, given how little time Topher was actually away from his desk). My early money's on Claire, but we'll see.
  • Best, creepiest and most intriguing line this season so far: "[referring to the Dollhouses]Fantasy is their business, but it is not their purpose."
Things I still want to know:
  • Then what exactly is their purpose?!?!
  • How long can Doll go undercover? It seems like Mellie has been around Paul for a long time now.
  • Who is the mole? I'd guess Claire, but that seems too obvious. It would be brilliant if it were secretly Adelle herself (or even better, if Adelle were a sleeper Doll just like Mellie!)
  • What purpose, dramatically, does Paul Ballard serve? Because the previews for episode 8 make it look like the Dolls are about to free themselves. And I'm happy with that - the notion that they needed Paul to rescue them has always seemed silly. Aside from his White Knight complex, there's not a lot of reason for Paul to be so emotionally invested. I've always thought that it would make a lot more sense, story-wise, for someone like Boyd to be the savior.
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On 8:31 PM , Brownie said...

I see you're still watching... I'm out.